Dogs abandoned as Baird axes ban and media governs NSW state
After being reassured yesterday by staff at both of NSW Premier Mike Bairds' offices that news of a possible greyhound racing ban reversal was purely media speculation and he was standing by his decision keeping the ban locked in, Humane Society International (HSI) is shocked by today's announcement that it will be axed. The facts are the same – the extensive evidence uncovered by the independent inquiry remains – it's a cruel and corrupt industry incapable of reform. He made the right decision, he was not wrong, but now he is.
It seems that today Baird has bowed to the pressure of the media giants and radio shock jocks, allowing them to govern the state of New South Wales. HSI Director Verna Simpson said, "Baird's initial decision to ban the industry had gained the support of around two-thirds of the people of NSW and the ACT because the public don't want their tax dollars being used to support extensive animal cruelty and corruption. With today's news, Baird has lost all credibility from not only the greyhound racing industry, but also over a million constituents who strongly support the ban.”
Greyhound racing is already a dying industry around the world with only eight countries still allowing the cruelty to continue. The same trend is seen in Australia with almost half of the 34 tracks set to close in a proposal by industry itself, prior to the ban announcement last July.
So what does this mean for the dogs? They are now left unprotected. The industry has demonstrated they are incapable of self-regulation, and with no independent oversight, nothing will change. And who is going to rehome the 19,000 dogs in limbo now? How will government ensure their welfare? Ms Simpson said, "If rescue groups are expected to continue dealing with the aftermath then they need an infrastructure of dedicated rehoming facilities and funding. These charities and caring individuals have been working tirelessly for years to help these dogs. Many of them, if not most, are battling compassion fatigue. They go out to these trainers/breeders properties and see how the dogs live, they bring them into their homes, care for them when they are depressed, injured, or need re-training, covering the costs thanks to public donations. It's not fair to expect this to continue.”
Then we come to the issue of live baiting and how this will be policed when it is done on private property where trespass and 'ag-gag' laws protect those who are committing the crimes. Only today NSW greyhound owner and trainer Chad Achurch faced court for allegedly recording videos of live baiting using rabbits. Astonishingly this footage was taken in August, after the controversial ban was announced! Police also allege Mr Achurch is a member of the Rebels Outlaw Motorcycle Gang adding to the evidence of the involvement of bikey gangs and organised crime within the corrupt greyhound racing industry.
HSI had hoped government would take the opportunity to set up a safe haven for whistleblowers where they can report evidence of live baiting without risking their own welfare. Ms Simpson continues, "In the absence of such a facility being established by government, HSI plans to set up a Whistleblower Box where witnesses can anonymously report these crimes, acting as the big brother for greyhounds to hopefully stamp out live baiting for good. A special police unit was established by the Government when the ban was brought in because of the level of threats to people opposing greyhound racing. We would hope this unit remains in place so we have a point of contact for our evidence.”
We hope that Baird takes note of his mail today with over 95% of his voters appalled that he would be bullied by shock jocks and trash media. He should have listened to the more than one million people in NSW that belong to groups that care for and about animals, rather than those with a vested interest in cruelty.